31 Days of Horror 2016: Day #6 THE INVITATION
“There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
There was once a group of friends. They had love and then they had tragedy. The married couple that united them all ended their union with a divorce and the friends fell out of contact with one another. Now, the ex-wife of that couple has returned from nearly two years of being off the grid, and she’s invited all her friends to a dinner party in the house her husband and her used to share. The ex-husband, Logan Marshall-Green (the dude who really shouldn’t have accepted a drink from Michael Fassbender in Prometheus), arrives with his new girlfriend not knowing what to expect. He walks through the house’s memories – some good, some bad – and tries to settle in for an uncomfortable evening.
Things get progressively weirder, however, when certain guests fail to arrive and other strangers to the group show up instead. Seems that, in order to deal with her depression, the ex-wife has turned to a strange… cult? Is it cool if we use that word? They’re a cult, guys. And at least part of the mass invite to old friends was to introduce them to the cult’s teachings in an attempt at allowing others to find happiness.
The Invitation is one of the smartest suspense films I have seen in a long time. It’s never clear if this is a horror movie or if the horror movie is happening inside of the overly anxious and socially awkward main character’s head.
Hey, I have high anxiety. I overanalyze things and it’s been said that I have a paranoid mind. I’m awkward in certain social situations. I’m getting better at all of these things, but some part of me will always feel like a goldfish that’s hopped out of his bowl and is trying to figure out how to breathe in an environment that’s totally unsuitable for him.
And so, I get this movie. The “normal” characters are invited to a friend’s house, only to find that the friend has changed dramatically and she’s trying to introduce them to some strange new ideas. When one character gets up and leaves early because she feels uncomfortable, I was like, yeah, you go girl, flee and never return. The others stay and work through it. Most even settle into the flow of the evening, accept the oddities, and enjoy togetherness. But not the ex-husband. He sees shadows, he detects patterns in behavior, and he’s suspicious of everything. He thinks he’s just walked onto a Hitchcock set and he’s pissed off that everybody else is acting calm and polite instead of freaking out about it. But the film is so clever, it lets you wonder if he’s just wound too tight or if there really is something very wrong about this gathering. Disturbing things are explained away reasonably enough, the main character’s damaged psyche obviously makes him an unreliable narrator, but even so… there’s an overwhelming sense of unease.
The Invitation is one of the best films of 2016. Super smart, suspenseful, and unpredictable. Highly recommended.
Tomorrow’s film: David Cronenberg’s The Fly. You can check up on my 31 Days of Horror schedule at: http://letterboxd.com/warner/list/31-days-of-horror-2016/
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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